It says something about our super-size-me world that a 4,600-pound vehicle can be classified as a midsized SUV. But then the Acadia slots between GMC's Terrain and its barge-sized Yukon. For 2013, the Acadia gets a facelift that brings it in line with GMC's urban-macho aesthetic. We need to look rugged in those school car lines, after all.
Appearance: The Acadia's refreshed design gives it a more chiseled look that taps into the family features of the smaller Terrain. The most prominent change is a front that's more trucklike with a bold three-bar grille. The headlights, hood and fenders also get tweaks. The LED daylight running lights wrap around the headlight assembly for a modern look. The rear glass also is a wraparound, which makes the Acadia look streamlined and long. Our tester came in Crystal Red Tintcoat, which brought compliments from a soccer mom, surely the demographic that makes GMC giddy.
Performance: The 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 purrs quietly and is adequate in normal driving, as is the six-speed automatic. The engine seems strained under hard accelerations, but remember this is a beefy SUV at 4,656 pounds (the optional AWD is 4,850!). There also can be some torque steer on this front-wheel-driver. Important consideration: The Acadia handles and feels like a truck, which can make parking lot navigation more challenging. There's also body lean on turns because of its height. It's a good thing that a rearview camera and rear parking sensor are standard. You will need them.
Interior: The layout is much like a minivan: open, spacious and flexible. Cargo space is expansive: 24.1 cubic feet behind the third-row seats, and up to 116.1 cubic feet with both second and third rows down. The Acadia seats seven to eight, depending on the seating configuration. The second-row seats tip and slide forward easily to access the third row. You can also use the walk-through with the second-row bucket-seat. There also is hidden under-deck storage and a power lift gate. As for creature comforts, our tester had the entertainment system for rear passengers, with DVD player, wireless headphones and remote control. The power sunroof with second-row skylight made for a bright and airy cabin. The dash's instruments are clear and easy to read. The center console screen and controls? Not so much. Peter found the 6.5-inch Color Touch display too small for a vehicle of this size. The IntelliLink infotainment system has small touch buttons, but controls for the AC and towing mode are push buttons. Add some oddly marked controls and it's a confusing mix. Our tester did have some trucklike sophistication, with comfortable ebony leather seats with contrast stitching, as well as faux wood grain and aluminum accents. Other complaints: For shorter drivers, entry can be difficult; the side mirrors are small for a vehicle this size, as are the tiny blind-spot mirrors.
Our 3 favorites
Vista: The wraparound rear glass adds design flair.
New grille: It's a more distinctive look.
Ease of use: The SmartSlide Seating System is great for hauling the kids.
Power tailgate: Remotely open and close the heavy lift gate.
Cargo space: Easily fold seats to get up to 116.1 cubic feet of space.
Utilitarian: Minivan convenience without the minivan look.
The bottom line: The Acadia is a nice people mover and minivan alternative with flexible seating. The tradeoff: It feels like the truck it is (oh, that MPG) and the price can quickly escalate depending on trim level and options.